Four more die in Hawaii from swine flu

Shirley Fake
Shirley Fake
Dr. Sarah Park
Dr. Sarah Park

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

Honolulu (KHNL) - The latest swine flu victims include not only those with underlying health problems, but also a healthy adult in their 40's and a 5-year-old child.

Every year, there are a number of deaths from influenza. Many times the very young or the very old, or those already with health problems. But instead of targeting those groups, swine flu has taken aim at everybody else.

Along with learning their ABC's, kids at the Kilauea Ohana Playschool are also learning the importance of good hygiene.

"A lot of times they wash their hands, go do an activity and we have to remind them to wash their hands again," said Shirley Fake, the KOP teacher.

Heather Reynolds has also made hand washing part of family fun for her daughter Kaila, as a way to keep the flu away.

"I taught her how to sing the abc song twice while she washes hands. Cause it has been more of a concern lately for us," said Reynolds.

This simple step could end up saving a life. As one of the latest victims of the swine flu was a five year child.

Unlike a typical flu season, where the elderly and infants are at greatest risk, the swine flu has killed people of all ages.

"With this strain, we're not as worried about our elderly as we are about young adults," said Dr. Sarah Park, with the State Department of Health.

School age kids are just as susceptible to the swine flu as everyone else young or old. But children with neurological disorders have been linked to a higher number of swine flu deaths.

They'll be some of the first to get the vaccine when it becomes available in mid-October, along with pregnant women, and young adults.

Until that time, everyone needs to take steps to stay safe.

"Hopefully people wake up and pay more attention," added Dr. Park.

Youngsters at Kilauea Ohana Playschool are paying attention to being healthy at home and at school. And so far this flu season, their hand washing lesson has been a valuable one.

"It's the first defense against the flu, and so far, I haven't had anyone sick here. So, I think it pays off," said Fake.

While it may sound ironic, it is also important to stay as healthy as possible, even when you are sick.

Many swine flu deaths have also been linked to bacterial infections. Which can pose potentially deadly problems when your immune system is already weakened from fighting the flu.